Apr

15

Mugging and Attempted Sexual Assault

Written by

Really frightening news: Public Safety just warned Columbia students about an attempted sexual assault and a mugging earlier this weekend. On Friday evening, a woman jogging in Riverside Park was nearly sexually assaulted. Later that night, a man was robbed on Claremont Avenue and LaSalle St (up by 125th street). Here are the two alerts from Public Safety:

Sexual assault:

The New York City Police Department has reported that on April 13, 2012 at about 6:00 p.m. a female jogger was the victim of an attempted sexual assault in Riverside Park near W. 119ST. The victim reported that she was jogging in the park and was accosted by a male, who attempted to sexually assault her. She was able to fight the victim off and he fled south out of Riverside Park. The police provided the following description of the suspect: Male/ Hispanic /25-30yrs/light complexion/5’8”/stocky build/wearing a dark baseball hat, grey sweatshirt, blue jeans and a dark backpack with thin straps. If you have any information about this crime or this suspect, contact the 26Pct. detectives at 212-678-1351.

Mugging:

On April 14, 2012 at about 4:10 a.m., a student reported that he was assaulted and robbed as he was walking south on Claremont Ave. near LaSalle St. The victim reported that a male accosted him, demanded his property and knocked him to the ground. The victim was able to flee and call the police. The victim provided the following description: Male/ dark skinned/ 6’/slim build/ wearing a Cincinnati baseball cap and dark clothing. The victim believes there may have been a second suspect, but has no description. If you have any information about this crime, contact Det. Rojas at the 26Pct. Detective Squad, tel. # 212-678-1351. Remember to remain aware of your surroundings when traveling at night and to limit the use of your electronic devices in public areas.

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78 Comments

  1. nyc  

    really needs to legalize concealed carry permits for firearms or at least stun guns again. this is getting ridiculous.

    in north carolina where i grew up, you try to mug someone you get capped 6 times in the knee and pissed on as you lay dying

  2. Anonymous

    Ladies, please don't jog alone in Riverside.

    • well

      I think that might be excessive. Granted, the park is not dark at 6pm, but that isn't the middle of the day (sunset is at 7:30). If I'm not mistaken, the park is also rather densely wooded around 119. Then there are also the inherent perils of using single incidents to discern general trends.

      • Anonymous

        I am tired of all the bullshit regarding "stop the victim-blaming" mentality. The reality is, if you walk into a dangerous neighborhood, the likelihood of getting assaulted is greater jogging alone. That is the truth. If you want to risk getting assaulted, jog in the fucking darkness in a dangerous area. Unless you're totally proficient in self-defense, stfu and jog during a different part of the day in the company of others and you will be safe guaranteed. It's called having common sense.

        • Anonymous

          Same idea goes for the male who got mugged.

        • Sarah

          hate to tell you this, but first, what makes you believe that there are higher levels of rape in that area (an extremely wealthy area actually)? Is it because there are more black people in an adjoining area? Would you tell women not to jog in broad daylight on the upper east side? This type of rape can occur anywhere within any group, it is simply not associated with poverty and definitely not with Harlem. It is impossible to know when you could be in danger (especially since the vast majority of rapes occur by someone you know). Also, would you like to be told that you can't be outside without an escort when it gets near dark? Nice Taliban type of thinking. She did something thousands and thousands of people in New York do everyday, she went jogging in broad daylight. That is simply not unsafe or even remotely unusual behavior. ps, I live right near there and walk home from work in the dark (at 6:00) in the wintertime. I should probably be raped to show me the error of my ways. How dare I be outside without an escort at all times.

      • Anonymous  

        There is a hideous rape culture in this country. There are awful, awful people out there. People are trying to change that. Meanwhile, don't put yourself in a situation where you're going to have to interact with them.

      • Anonymous  

        The concept of victim blaming is a very blurry one. A victim should never be made to feel responsible for being wronged, no matter the crime. However, in this society it is only practical to try to understand how to stay safe.

        Don't parents tell their children not to take candy from strangers? If a child is kidnapped because they followed a stranger who offered them candy, it would be victim blaming to say "what a stupid kid! Didn't they know it's dangerous to follow a stranger? That kid should have been more cautious." This attitude places blame on the victim.

        However, it would not be victim blaming to say "parents, please warn your kids about talking to strangers." This is simply acknowledging that the world is dangerous, and teaching people about safety might save their lives later.

    • facepalm  

      Sexual violence is never the fault of the survivor. These kinds of comments contribute to a culture that holds women (and all survivors) responsible for the violations they experience. These comments reproduce myths that jogging alone, or wearing a certain outfit, or being in a certain neighborhood means that those people are responsible when they are assaulted. But it's not my responsibility not to be raped--it's other people's responsibility NOT TO RAPE ME.

      • Anonymous  

        There's a huge difference between giving advice on how to avoid crime and saying that by not following that advice you're inviting crime. Of course you don't deserve to be murdered because you walked through Morningside Park alone at 3 am, but avoiding it is probably a good idea.

        That being said, I disagree with the original comment that women shouldn't jog alone in Riverside.

        • facepalm  

          "There’s a huge difference between giving advice on how to avoid crime and saying that by not following that advice you’re inviting crime."

          I don't think the difference is huge. Safety planning/risk reduction can be useful for some, but it very easily slips into a victim-blaming rhetoric. Often people ask survivors questions like, "but why were you at that party?" or "did you say no?", as if a certain behavior would have prevented/stopped someone from committing sexual violence. These questions imply that a survivor *should* have taken another action, that it's his/her fault for not trying hard enough to prevent their assault. In reality, perpetrators usually plan sexual violence; many know exactly what they are doing and make a choice to purposefully violate others' boundaries. To say that women (or anyone) will avoid sexual assault by doing or not doing a certain behavior is a myth: it can happen to anyone, anywhere, regardless of how "safe" they try to be. In fact, I'd bet that most sexual violence in Morningside Heights happens on campus in Columbia dorms. We don't like to talk about it, but the reality is students are perpetrating violence here. We have to address that instead of telling women ridiculous rules that deny the reality of sexual assault and only work to blame them for their experiences.

        • Anonymous  

          Shut up all of you.
          It's never the victims fault. I will jog where ever I damn well please- and jogging in riverside alone is pretty safe.
          HOWEVER: Jogging in the evening in Riverside? Mmm well...not so safe.
          I'm NOT victim blaming, I'm just saying:
          Girls AND boys, don't go jogging alone in sketchy areas when it gets dark. There are some nasty mofos out there.

      • Anonymous  

        i'm a guy and i wouldn't go jogging alone in riverside in a wooded area. my gf is about 5' tall and weighs about 100 lbs and i tell her she shouldn't be on a subway alone past 10 because she's such an easy target. its just about being smart. going to columbia gives you such a bright future. no reason to risk it by taking an unnecessary risk

      • Really, Columbia?  

        As a survivor of sexual assault, I am horrified at the number of thumb down votes the sentiment " But it’s not my responsibility not to be raped–it’s other people’s responsibility NOT TO RAPE ME." has received. This is the reason the report rate for this stuff is so damn low on college campuses--it's not worth dealing with shit like these culturally and institutionally pervasive attitudes.

        • Anonymous  

          Ok, let's make it simple so we can all agree.

          1) Rape is a horrible thing
          2) Rape is never the victim's fault
          3) Rape is more likely to happen in some places/at some times than in others
          4) In order to avoid the possibility that you could get raped, it's best to avoid those places and times.
          5) If you do get raped, it wasn't your fault. It was a tragedy.

          DONE. Come on guys. That was easy. My mum tells me not to walk around the park at night, and she's not being a misogynist. She's looking out for me.

          • I don't think  

            it's *necessarily* about misogynism.

            But one thing we NEED to stop doing in the campaign to end rape is saying things like, "Ladies...don't jog alone in the park."

            How about, "People...please don't rape"? We've focused far too much as a society on what the victim could've done. We forget that there's another side to the equation, too --- that rapists can make choices, too, however much we want to take away their agency from them.

          • Anonymous  

            Because it's easier to discourage people from running in Riverside by themselves than it is to stop all the rapists in NYC.

          • I know  

            it's easier. But just because it's easier doesn't mean that's the solution.

          • Anonymous  

            I don't mean to say that we should always to what is easy. And in an ideal world people wouldn't commit violent crimes. Until we live in that ideal world, it's easy to advise people to avoid going into morningside park alone because there are often violent crimes that occur in that park.

          • CC'13  

            the idea that rape is more likely to happen at certain places/times is not applicable in this situation, however. the majority of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows, in a more "domestic" space. just sayin.

    • Anonymous

      but if you must, please carry a slingshot and/or a machete

    • Paradigm shift  

      People....please don't walk alone in Riverside Park if you think you're going to rape someone.

  3. Anonymous  

    "She was able to fight the victim off and he fled south out of Riverside Park." maybe i can get a copyediting job for public safety next year

  4. Anonymous  

    This is why we need some good, God-fearing Klansmen at Columbia: to clean up this shithole of a neighborhood.

  5. Resources  

    Rape Crisis/Anti Violence Support Center: 212-854-HELP
    Student Services for Gender Based and Sexual Misconduct: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/dpsa/index.html

  6. Anonymous  

    You're arguing against a point that hasn't been made. This isn't a story of a woman dressing or acting a certain way and being blamed for her sexual assault. We all know of these incidents and most agree with you completely about their repulsiveness. This story is about a crime in a potentially unsafe area and what can be done to avoid similar crimes in the future. Replace "sexual assault" with "kidnapping," "robbery," "murder," or any other crime, and the advice is the same.

    • Anonymous  

      These things are all connected. When someone makes a comment like "Ladies, please don't jog alone in Riverside," it is connected to the way we talk about sexual violence in really problematic ways. Sexual violence most often happens by people we know, by people we trust. Telling women to act a certain way and they will be "safe" is a myth and, honestly, a lie. It creates a false idea of what sexual violence generally looks like, which makes invisible the experiences of so many, and yes it does blame survivors for their experiences. Note that no one is talking about the other crime that occurred: the mugging. No one is blaming that guy for walking in a "potentially unsafe area." Because a culture of victim-blaming exists for survivors of sexual violence as opposed to other kinds of crimes.

  7. Anonymous  

    Political correctness-aside, stay safe out there.

  8. Anonymous  

    Sooo we aren't going to give any advice to the guy that was just walking around at 4 in the morning?

  9. Anonymous

    Unfortunately I agree with a lot of these comments. You can avoid crimes by not jogging alone, do not go out after dark in secluded areas, stay on lit, busy streets, do not go north of 120th street.

  10. Anonymous  

    The issue though is implying that if you avoid those dangerous areas, you will be safe guaranteed. That just isn't true. Considering that the majority of sexual assaults happen between victims and people that they know really well, statistically you're probably just as likely to get sexual assaulted in your dorm room as you are running in the park. And while there may be a difference between saying that it's someone's fault for running in the park, and that people should avoid the park, that's a very blurry line. The issue is that whenever a sexual assault is reported people find something that the victim did that puts her/him at fault. All of the comments on their article aren't comments of sympathy or reaching out to the victim, they're finding fault with the victim's behavior.

  11. Anonymous  

    The problem with this comment section is not that advice is being given to the woman jogging in Riverside but that it is ONLY being given to the woman jogging in Riverside (in daylight, mind you) and not the man walking around at 4 in the morning. If the person who got mugged was also a woman, both victims would be getting condescended to in these comments (not to say that they both shouldn't, but it should be equal opportunity condescension).

  12. 189 by Sunshine Hedlund  

    experts say that the average woman
    does 189 things a day to prevent
    being assaulted or raped.

    what would a woman do?

    hold her keys in her hand, one key
    protruding between her knuckles, just
    in case she needs a weapon. pepper spray
    on her key chain and personal alarm
    in her purse. never walk alone at night, never walk
    in an unknown area alone-day or night.
    before getting in, look under the car
    and in the back seat. cross to the other side
    of the street when a man is coming
    toward her. never, never make eye contact,
    or did they say always make eye contact?
    take self-defense class and assertiveness
    training class. lock the car doors and roll
    up the windows. lock the front door
    and the back door. never set her drink down
    in a bar or a party, and never accept a drink
    from a stranger. and of course, she should
    never flirt or get drunk, cause if she does
    and he rapes her, she was asking for it,
    she wanted it. how can we expect him
    to stop himself?

    how many more things seem as normal
    as waking up or brushing our teeth?
    experts say a man who does 189 things a day
    to prevent assault would be diagnosed
    paranoid schizophrenic.

    but not a woman. she's being
    smart, doing what she's
    supposed to do.

    i'm tired. tired of holding the responsibility
    in the way i dress and where i walk. tired of
    holding the responsibility just because i am
    a woman, and that's just the way it goes.

    189 things a day. 68,985 things a year,
    so that i can stop the rapist from raping me?
    why don't we start with the one who holds
    the power, the one who wants the power?

    why not teach us all it is wrong
    to control, to hurt, to dominate?

    why don't we give him a list of 189 things
    to do each day to prevent rape: avoid
    using sexist language, listen to women.
    stop when she says stop. volunteer
    with children. stop staring at our breasts
    and slapping our asses. learn about feminism,
    masculinity and love

  13. Steph Herold, School of Public Health

    I'd like to invite all of the trolls who believe that people are to blame for their own rape and their own muggings to post with your name instead of anonymously, so that the entire campus knows who is responsible for creating a community that is so toxic to survivors and their allies.

    • Anonymous  

      Maybe the reason most choose anonymity is because the culture at Columbia is to vilify anyone who claims there are ways to avoid rape, the same as any other crime. If someone had given the exact same advice to the man who says mugged (and granted, they didn't, which I am guessing has to do with the fact that few Columbia students walk along LaSalle late at night, while many jog in Riverside at dusk), no one would have blamed the commenter for contributing to the victim-blaming culture of mugging victims.

      • CC '13 Lawrence  

        Yeah, because obviously the problem is that women aren't trying hard enough to not get raped. It's bound to happen, right? Or are you not actually meaning to say that men are just brainless brutes who have no self control whatsoever?

        If there were ways to guarantee you would never, ever get raped, then I would imagine there would be a lot fewer rape survivors. I'm pretty sure the only way to ensure that you never get raped would be to not have any friends or acquaintances or family members and never go to any interesting parties and never leave your house alone ever. Because that's super practical.

        I don't think many people here realize that the issue isn't even whether or not not walking alone at night would protect you from rape. It's that our initial reaction to hearing about an attempted assault is to think about how the victim could have been at fault. Comments like 'why wasn't she more careful?' and 'she was so dumb' dominate every conversation about violence, moreso than comments like 'why don't we teach people that this is wrong?' or 'when will people learn that sexual assault isn't tolerated in this society?' or even 'that's so horrible, I'm so sorry that happened to that poor woman'. This repeatedly not only tell survivors that society sees assault as their fault, but also that their peers don't really care at all about their having experienced a tragic and traumatizing event. We refuse to talk about perpetrators and rape culture every. single. time. So I beg of you, even if you can't get it through your head that walking alone at 6pm is not an unreasonable thing for an independent human being to do, please at least consider what it would be like to be a hurting survivor who is reading all of these comments from their peers and classmates.

        And to all of the survivors who unfortunately happened to look at these comments, I apologize for the ignorance of our community. Not everyone on campus is out to blame you, and there are some wonderful resources full of understanding and caring people out here.

        • Anonymous  

          1. Thank you for supporting what I said about vilification in your first paragraph.
          2. No one here thinks blaming victims for rape is acceptable. I think most of us agree that if we had more frank discussions about rape that placed the blame squarely on the rapist, we would be in a better place. But I hope you don't think you're doing any potential victims of rape any good by claiming that there is nothing they can do to avoid it. Absolutely, one should not expect to be assaulted in a public park at dusk, but knowing to avoid wooded, uncrowded areas may prevent a similar crime in the future. I just don't understand how any advocate for rape victims can attack advice that could save lives just because it indicates there are things to be done to avoid sexual assault.

  14. Anonymous  

    No cause you see, advice on staying safe = blame = misogyny
    See how that works?

    Yeah, I don't either.

  15. to the girl who got away  

    im glad you kicked his butt and fought him off! so happy that nothing else happened and you were able to get away. you should be proud of yourself. im sure this shook you up quite a bit and i hope youre doing ok.

  16. CC'13  

    to all the people offering "common sense" advice to this jogger...i know you don't think you're victim blaming, you're just trying to make the argument that we all need to be more conscientious, assault is more likely to happen at certain times/places, etc. but 2 things-
    1) can we all agree that 6:00, when the sun is out, in a public park, should not be on the list of "common sense places to avoid"? like, fine, dark alley alone at 4 am, you'd have no one to appeal to for help but WHEN THE SUN IS OUT, IN A PUBLIC PARK? damn, lady jogger! be more careful!
    2) can we also all agree that the list of "common sense places to avoid" does not apply just to this female victim, or to crimes of assault in general, but to our whole community, and to all crimes? why are we singling out this one victim of one incident? believe me, all you people offering your polite advice would not be called "victim blamers" if this logic showed up across the board...i know you may try and argue that it does, but come on, it's usually this kind of thread for these kinds of crimes.
    3) a common sense list of places to avoid is just that. it is not guarantee against crime, ESPECIALLY sexual assault. the majority of sexual assaults are perpetrated by someone the victim knows, and it's not usually outside in some park somewhere. combating the stereotype of rape by men in ski masks in alleys needs to happen, and soon-especially if we want our reporting rates to match the real rates these crimes are occurring.

  17. Anonymous  

    Only at Columbia would such a vociferous debate rage on a blog. Assault is terrible. Sexual assault more less so. Being robbed at gunpoint for an iPhone sucks.

    It doesn't mean you can't warn students on how to avoid being targeted by criminals. This by no means puts the burden of guilt on the victim, that somehow they should not have been engaged in a legal activity of their own volition. However, taking the necessary precautions can reduce the probability of being targeted, and no one should blame the victim Hell, even if I were to walk around Harlem as a klansman (relevant post way above), it would not be right to say that I deserved to be shot or that I was mostly at fault. It's not right to infringe upon the liberties of others, and saying that he or she deserved violence is akin to "he hit me first."

  18. Anonymous

    We shouldn't blame the victim. Rape is always wrong. Good, now that I got that shibboleth out of the way...

    It's ncredibly idealistic and naive to go around 1) expecting that society can perfectly prevent crime and 2) expect that everyone else shares your idealistic view. Obviously ALL crime is bad and the blame ultimately lands on the perpetrator, but let's not be so fucking blinded by idealistic fervor to not allow ourselves to realize that some areas are just more dangerous than others. Walking in a park is never an invitation to rape, but it is entirely avoidable, and it's just a fucking fact of life that people stupidly place themselves in bad situations. To refuse to acknowledge that fact may be "fighting the fight" against some abstract notion of victim blaming, but it's also probably not letting people get the message they really deserve---humble advice.

    Secondly, stop being so god damn holier than thou about all of this stuff. Take a step back and realize that you have adopted an idealistic viewpoint (which is fine, not my issue) but that other people might well not hold your view. You're not going to do a good job exporting those ideas if you waltz into every situation brazenly blaming unreported rape on people trying to give a little advice. Honestly, I think you do your entire movement a HUGE disservice with the thinly veiled man hating.

    Obviously I abhor rape, and I want everyone to feel comfortable enough coming forward to get help no matter what their issue is, but I refuse to endorse any group with such extreme intellectual militancy.

    • Anonymous  

      "and it’s just a fucking fact of life that people stupidly place themselves in bad situations"

      ...like jogging in a public park while the sun is up. so stupid, amirite?

  19. Anonymous

    Don't know why people think concealed carry laws will solve this. You know why will solve this? Open crossbow carry laws. My friend goes out.alone late at night, but no one fucks with her because she's carrying old springy.

  20. A Response from Take Back the Night  

    Sunday evening, Bwog reported that, on April 13, a man in Riverside Park attempted to sexually assault a woman jogging past him. The post on Bwog sparked a heated debate about the roll and responsibility of a survivor within his/her own assault experience. We at Take Back the Night reject all forms of victim-blaming, and are appalled that such sentiments could come from our own community members.

    Many comments voiced "common sense" safety concerns about jogging alone, passing through our neighboring parks, or participating in some kind of "dangerous" or "risky" activity. Commentors reasoned that these behaviors often result in experiences of assault.

    While Take Back the Night acknowledges that safety planning is a form of risk reduction (that is, that encouraging individuals to be vigilant can help increase the personal safety of the individual), we feel that the comments on the Bwog article recreated the marginalization that many survivors experience on campus.

    Risk reduction tactics unfairly focus attention on the potential survivor or victim within a situation. We understand risk reduction to be a highly gendered phenomenon: women are, more often than any other gender, encouraged to monitor their behaviors. It is also a racialized phenomenon: individuals are instructed to stay away from low-income communities and/or communities of color because these neighborhoods are unfairly viewed as more "dangerous." Risk reduction privileges a stereotypical assault experience that makes invisible those survivors--the majority of survivors--who experience abuse at the hands of an acquaintance, friend, mentor, or family member. Finally, because risk reduction is so present within our framework of conceptualizing sexual assault, survivors often face a barrage of questions implying that they did not "do enough" to prevent their own assault. These sentiments place blame on survivors, faulting them for their own assault experience.

    Take Back the Night demands that we shift this paradigm. We reject the sexist, racist, and classist implications embedded within victim-blaming discourses. We reject the idea that sexual violence most frequently happens off-campus in "unsafe" neighborhoods. Sexual violence happens in our classrooms, in our dorms, in our fraternities and sororities, and on College Walk. When we walk around this campus, we can expect to have classes with, be friends with, be roommates with, be teammates with, be dating women, men, and people of all genders who have experienced sexual violence. When we walk around this campus, we can expect to have classes with, be friends with, be roommates with, be teammates with, be dating people who are perpetrators of sexual violence.

    We encourage all community members to join with us Thursday evening for the annual Take Back the Night Rally, March and Speakout. The rally begins at 8pm at the Barnard gates and is followed by a march around Morningside Heights to reclaim our community as a safe space. A speakout in LeFrak Gymnasium concludes the evening, at which participants can anonymously share their experiences.

    Rape and sexual assault are, unfortunately, a reality on our campus. From intimate partner violence, to stalking, to sexual harassment, to hate speech, students encounter all kinds of boundary violations every day. Victim-blaming comments on Bwog only serve only to further silence survivors of violence and to disregard the realities of their experiences. We will not stand for this in our community.

  21. Anonymous  

    Dear Bwog,

    how many times are you going to "discuss" or "reconsider" your comment policy until something is done. of course everyone has a right to free speech, but do you consider the impact these comments have on the victim of this assault or of any sexual assault?

  22. hypocrites  

    and we pretend columbia is safe because we never get e-mails or receive reports from the many women who are assaulted right on campus because we are so elitist and it seems so "safe"

  23. MorningsideDrvDude

    Years ago two very white friends of mine (from Westchester) were walking in the east village in the early afternoon. They walked by a group of dudes on a stoop, who started following them and eventually surrounded my friends. One of the men demanded $5 for something or other. One of my friends said he only had a few dollars and gave him the loose cash in his pocket. However, my other friend (not the sharpest) said he only had a hundred dollar bill and would his mugger be so kind to give him change? Of course he was liberated of several hundred bucks. Did I blame and ridicule him for being an idiot? Absolutely! His approach lacked common sense, and could have been handled differently. Does that mean he deserved to be mugged? Of course not.

    There is nothing wrong in taking steps to avoid being a victim of crime. This goes from not handing out your SSN to not just randomly buzzing people into your building. A certain level of common sense/street smarts/awareness of your surroundings is required to live in NYC - if you use those you will have a much pleasant and possitive experience.

    In closing, I watched the "march" from my window last night and saw two RMPs and 4 or 5 cops on foot (one LT). I can't help but point out that your take back the night efforts would be better spent going through Rside or Mside park, where actual crimes occurred. Or at least freeing those cops up to like fight and prevent crime.

    You know what nobody has mentioned is that there is a possible rapist running around Riverside Park, and it would be nice to, you know, catch the scumbag.

  24. Anonymous  

    hey, now d.spar's comment about "4 in the morning" is literally true.

  25. Hey bwog  

    since there's no report button, how can i report this comment for obvious misogyny?

  26. Anonymous  

    You can email editors@bwog.com

  27. PLEASE  

    Bwog, remove the above comment!

  28. Anonymous  

    Leave it to Bwog to make a straightforward "Oh what a horrible thing!" post to turn into a shitstorm

  29. Anonymous  

    U MAD?
    stay mad.

  30. Anonymous  

    was that Bwog's fault or the commenters? pretty sure Bwog just posted the story and commenters turned it into a "shitstorm."

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